Featuring: David Annandale, Marie Arana, Elizabeth Bear, Oliver Bullough, Peter Cleave, Paul French, Kameron Hurley, Phil Kelly, R.F. Kuang, Owen Laukkanen, Peter McLean, Josh Reynolds, Jack Skillingstead, Sherwood Smith, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Lavie Tidhar, Kali Wallace, David Wellington, Jin Yong
Marie Arana, SILVER, SWORD & STONE (Simon & Schuster)
Against the background of a thousand years of vivid history, acclaimed writer Marie Arana tells the timely and timeless stories of three contemporary Latin Americans whose lives represent three driving forces that have shaped the character of the region: exploitation (silver), violence (sword), and religion (stone).
Leonor Gonzales lives in a tiny community perched 18,000 feet above sea level in the Andean cordillera of Peru, the highest human habitation on earth. Like her late husband, she works the gold mines much as the Indians were forced to do at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Illiteracy, malnutrition, and disease reign as they did five hundred years ago. And now, just as then, a miner’s survival depends on a vast global market whose fluctuations are controlled in faraway places.
Carlos Buergos is a Cuban who fought in the civil war in Angola and now lives in a quiet community outside New Orleans. He was among hundreds of criminals Cuba expelled to the US in 1980. His story echoes the violence that has coursed through the Americas since before Columbus to the crushing savagery of the Spanish Conquest, and from 19th- and 20th-century wars and revolutions to the military crackdowns that convulse Latin America to this day.
Xavier Albó is a Jesuit priest from Barcelona who emigrated to Bolivia, where he works among the indigenous people. He considers himself an Indian in head and heart and, for this, is well known in his adopted country. Although his aim is to learn rather than proselytize, he is an inheritor of a checkered past, where priests marched alongside conquistadors, converting the natives to Christianity, often forcibly, in the effort to win the New World. Ever since, the Catholic Church has played a central role in the political life of Latin America — sometimes for good, sometimes not.
In Silver, Sword, and Stone Marie Arana seamlessly weaves these stories with the history of the past millennium to explain three enduring themes that have defined Latin America since pre-Columbian times: the foreign greed for its mineral riches, an ingrained propensity to violence, and the abiding power of religion. What emerges is a vibrant portrait of a people whose lives are increasingly intertwined with our own.
Elizabeth Bear, ANCESTRAL NIGHT (Gollancz)
A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera…
Haimey Dz thinks she knows what she wants.
She thinks she knows who she is.
She is wrong.
A routine salvage mission uncovers evidence of a terrible crime and relics of a powerful ancient technology, just as Haimey and her small crew run afoul of pirates at the outer limits of the Milky Way and find themselves both on the run, and in possession of ancient, universe-changing technology.
When the authorities prove corrupt, it becomes clear that Haimey is the only one who can protect her galaxy-spanning civilisation from its potential power – and from the revolutionaries who want to use it to seed terror and war. But doing so will take her from the event horizon of the super-massive black hole at the galaxy’s core to the infinite, empty spaces at its edge. Along the way, she’ll have to uncover the secrets of ancient intelligences lost to time as well as her own lost secrets, which she will wish had remained hidden from her forever…
This is the highly-anticipated first novel in Bear’s new White Space series. I’ve been hearing some good things, too, so looking forward to reading it. Ancestral Night is out now, published by Gollancz in the UK and Saga Press in North America.
Also on CR: Interview with Elizabeth Bear (2019)
Oliver Bullough, MONEYLAND (St. Martin’s Press)
An investigative journalist’s deep dive into the corrupt workings of the world’s kleptocrats.
From ruined towns on the edge of Siberia, to Bond-villain lairs in London and Manhattan, something has gone wrong. Kleptocracies, governments run by corrupt leaders that prosper at the expense of their people, are on the rise.
Once upon a time, if an official stole money, there wasn’t much he could do with it. He could buy himself a new car or build himself a nice house or give it to his friends and family, but that was about it. If he kept stealing, the money would just pile up in his house until he had no rooms left to put it in, or it was eaten by mice.
And then some bankers had a bright idea.
Join the investigative journalist Oliver Bullough on a journey into Moneyland — the secret country of the lawless, stateless superrich.
Learn how the institutions of Europe and the United States have become money-laundering operations, attacking the foundations of many of the world’s most stable countries. Meet the kleptocrats. Meet their awful children. And find out how heroic activists around the world are fighting back.
This is the story of wealth and power in the 21st century. It isn’t too late to change it.
Moneyland was published in the UK last September, via Profile Books, and I’ve been looking forward to getting around to reading it. The book is due to be published in North America by St. Martin’s Press, on May 7th, 2019.
Paul Cleave, A KILLER HARVEST (Mulholland)
After a corneal donation, a blind teenager begins to see and feel memories from their previous owner — a homicide detective who was also his father.
Joshua is convinced there’s a family curse.
It’s taken his loved ones, robbed him of his eyesight, and now his father has been killed chasing down a murderer.
His dad’s last wish seems like a blessing: the chance for Joshua to see. But as Joshua navigates the world of sight, he realises he is seeing things through his father’s eyes. Dark things; things he never knew.
His father was living a secret life. And there are consequences coming for Joshua — along with a killer drawing closer and closer…
Hadn’t heard of this one before it arrived in the mail. Sounds pretty intriguing, though. Hopefully get to it soon. Paul Cleave’s A Killer Harvest is out now, published by Mulholland in the UK and Atria in North America.
Paul French, DESTINATION SHANGHAI (Blacksmith Books)
18 true stories of those who went…
For the privileged a cosmopolitan pleasure ground; for the desperate a port of last resort.
A pot of gold at the end of an Oriental rainbow; a thick slice of hell denounced from the pulpit.
The start of a journey for many; the end of the road for some.
A place to find fame, or to seek anonymity; rogues, chancers, showgirls, criminals…
For so many people from so many lands, there was one phrase that sent a tingle of hope or a shiver of anticipation down every spine: “DESTINATION SHANGHAI”
If you’ve been reading/following CR for even a short while, you’ll hopefully have spotted that I’m a big fan of Paul French’s books. This is his latest, published by Blacksmith Books. I started reading this the day it arrived.
Also on CR: Review of City of Devils
Kameron Hurley, MEET ME IN THE FUTURE (Tachyon)
When renegade author Kameron Hurley (The Light Brigade; The Stars Are Legion) takes you to the future, be prepared for the unexpected. Yes, it will be dangerous, frequently brutal, and often devastating. But it’s also savagely funny, deliriously strange, and absolutely brimming with adventure.
In these edgy, unexpected tales, a body-hopping mercenary avenges his pet elephant, and an orphan falls in love with a sentient starship. Fighters ally to power a reality-bending engine, and a swamp-dwelling introvert tries to save the world — from her plague-casting former wife.
So come meet Kameron Hurley in the future. The version she’s created here is weirder — and far more hopeful — than you could ever imagine.
Also on CR: Guest Post on “Gritty vs. Classic Heroes”
R.F. Kuang, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC (Voyager)
The war is over.
The war has just begun.
Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix — the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.
Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin’s homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.
But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix’s deadly power once more.
Because there is nothing Rin won’t sacrifice to save her country… and exact her vengeance.
The sequel to the critically-acclaimed The Poppy War. I read that novel quite some time ago, and I still haven’t managed to marshal my thoughts. It is very good — Kuang’s writing and characters are great. The story was very good, and the world-building was a skillful (if not particularly well-disguised) take on East Asian history, especially Chinese-Japanese relations. I’ve been looking forward to the sequel ever since finishing the first. I’ll be reading it very soon (but will hold off on posting a review until July-ish). The Dragon Republic is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in August.
Also on CR: Interview with R.F. Kuang (2018)
Owen Laukkanen, DECEPTION COVE (Mulholland)
A new thriller set in remote Washington State, where a widowed ex-Marine and a misanthropic ex-convict grudgingly team up to save the only thing they have in common — the rescue dog who changed both their lives.
Widowed while deployed overseas, former US Marine Jess Winslow reenters civilian life with little more than a falling-down house, a medical discharge for PTSD, and a dog–specifically Lucy, a black and white pitbull mix trained to help Jess cope with the crippling memories of her time in Afghanistan. But Jess also inherits a heap of trouble, of her late husband Ty’s making. A corrupt deputy sheriff comes looking for a mysterious package — and leaves with Lucy, threatening to have the dog destroyed unless Jess delivers the goods allegedly stolen by her husband before his untimely death.
The next person to appear on her doorstep is a newly released ex-convict. Surprisingly, he’s there to help. The only good thing to come of Mason Burke’s fifteen years in prison was the dog he trained there for a service-animal program — Lucy. She helped keep him sane; now he’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe.
Forced into an uneasy alliance in order to save Lucy, Jess and Mason must learn to trust each other. But finding Ty’s package is only the start of their battle. To avoid becoming collateral damage in someone else’s private war, they’ll have to fight back — and conquer their own doubts and fears.
A gripping story of survival and redemption set in the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful and most dangerous coastal terrain.
Peter McLean, PRIEST OF LIES (Ace Books)
Tomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster… and spy. As Tomas’s power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.
People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become — until they can’t take it anymore. And when they rise up…may the gods help their oppressors.
When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen’s Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.
Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen’s Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.
In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people’s champion… or just a priest of lies.
The second book in the War for the Rose Throne fantasy series, and sequel to the acclaimed Priest of Bones (which I haven’t yet had the chance to read, but it rapidly climbing my TBR mountain). Priest of Lies is due to be published in July by Ace Books (North America) and Jo Fletcher Books (UK). I’m really looking forward to reading this series.
Josh Reynolds, David Annandale & Phil Kelly, THE WICKED AND THE DAMNED (Black Library)
On a misty cemetery world, three strangers are drawn together through mysterious circumstances. Each of them has a tale to tell of a narrow escape from death. Amid the toll of funerary bells and the creep and click of mortuary-servitors, the truth is confessed. But whose story can be trusted? Whose recollection is warped, even unto themselves? For these are strange stories of the uncanny, the irrational and the spine-chillingly frightening, where horrors abound and the dark depths of the human psyche is unearthed.
This is one of the highly-anticipated first releases in Black Library’s Warhammer Horror range (the other is Maledictions — see below). Really looking forward to reading this. The Wicked and the Damned is out now, published by Black Library.
Jack Skillingstead, THE CHAOS FUNCTION (John Joseph Adams)
If technology enabled you to save the life of someone you love, would you do so even if it might doom millions?
Olivia Nikitas, a hardened journalist whose specialty is war zones, has been reporting from the front lines of the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. When Brian, an aid worker she reluctantly fell in love with, dies while following her into danger, she’ll do anything to bring him back. In a makeshift death chamber beneath an ancient, sacred site, a strange technology is revealed to Olivia: the power to remake the future by changing the past.
Following her heart and not her head, Olivia brings Brian back, accidentally shifting the world to the brink of nuclear and biological disaster. Now she must stay steps ahead of the guardians of this technology, who will kill her to reclaim it, in order to save not just herself and her love, but the whole world.
This sounds really cool. I haven’t read any of Skillingstead’s other work yet, but I’m really looking forward to reading this ASAP. The Chaos Function is out now, published by John Joseph Adams/HMH in North America and in the UK.
Also on CR: Guest Post on “Why I Didn’t Write My Book in an Elevator”
Sherwood Smith, A SWORD NAMED TRUTH (DAW)
Untested young rulers must cooperate to protect their world from the magical threat of the mysterious kingdom of Norsunder in a new epic fantasy trilogy set in the same world as the popular Inda series.
Long-dormant magical forces are moving once again in Sartorias-deles. Agents of Norsunder, a mysterious bastion of incredible dark power, have reappeared in the world, amassing resources and sowing instability.
But with numerous nations led by young rulers brought too early to their thrones, the world is hardly ready to defend itself. Atan is still uncomfortable with her new queenship, gained after her country was freed from a Norsundrian enchantment that left it frozen outside time for a century. Senrid strives to establish rule of law, after deposing his brutal and cruel uncle, seeking to exert control over rebellious jarls and a distrustful military academy. Jilo never expected the responsibility of leading his nation, but when its dictator vanishes after a Norsundrian attack, Jilo finds himself stepping into the power void, taking the reins of a country so riddled with dark magic that its citizenry labors for mere survival. Clair and CJ lead a band of misfits against magical threats that overshadow their tiny country, including a direct incursion from the Norsundrians.
Those in power are not the only individuals working to subvert the plans of Norsunder. Liere, a young shopkeeper’s daughter, battles her own debilitating insecurities to live up to her reputation as a former savior of the realm. Hibern, a mage’s apprentice, must act as a liaison between national leaders, negotiating politics still foreign to her. Rel, a traveling warrior, stirs powerful allies to action encourages common folk to take up arms.
These leaders soon realize that any significant victory against Norsunder will require an alliance between their nations. Yet good intentions may fracture in the face of personal grudges, secrets, and inexperience. As the Norsundrian attacks become bolder, the members of this tenuous alliance must find ways to trust one another and bind themselves together — lest they fail to defend against a host that has crushed entire worlds.
This is the first book in the Rise of the Alliance series. A Sword Named Truth is due to be published by DAW Books on June 11th, 2019.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, CAGE OF SOULS (Head of Zeus)
The sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.
Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle’s darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madman, mutants.
The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?
Another new book from Adrian Tchaikovsky! I pre-ordered this as soon as I saw it up on Amazon. This is one of three coming out this year that I’m aware of — Children of Ruin, the long-awaited sequel to the utterly brilliant Children of Time, and also Walking to Aldebaran (a very good novella) also out this year. Cage of Souls is out now, published by Head of Zeus in the UK.
Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn”, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire of Black and Gold, Guns of the Dawn, Spiderlight, Ironclads and Walking to Aldebaran
Lavie Tidhar, THE VIOLENT CENTURY (Tachyon)
A bold experiment has mutated a small fraction of humanity. Nations race to harness the gifted, putting them to increasingly dark ends. At the dawn of global war, flashy American superheroes square off against sinister Germans and dissolute Russians. Increasingly depraved scientists conduct despicable research in the name of victory.
British agents Fogg and Oblivion, recalled to the Retirement Bureau, have kept a treacherous secret for over forty years. But all heroes must choose when to join the fray, and to whom their allegiance is owed — even for just one perfect summer’s day.
Various, MALEDICTIONS (Black Library)
Horror is no stranger to the dark worlds of Warhammer. Its very fabric is infested with the arcane, the strange and the downright terrifying. From the cold vastness of the 41st Millennium to the creeping evil at large in the Mortal Realms, this anthology of short stories explores the sinister side of Warhammer in a way it never has been before. Psychological torment, visceral horrors, harrowing tales of the supernatural and the nightmares buried within, this collection brings together a grim host of tales to chill the very blood…
Nepenthe by Cassandra Khaw
The Widow Tide by Richard Strachan
No Good Deed by Graham McNeill
Crimson Snow by Lora Gray
Last of the Blood by C L Werner
Predation of the Eagle by Peter McLean
The Last Ascension of Dominic Seroff by David Annandale
Triggers by Paul Kane
A Darksome Place by Josh Reynolds
The Marauder Lives by J.C. Stearns
The Nothings by Alec Worley
An anthology of horror stories set in the WH40k and Age of Sigmar settings. Really looking forward to reading this. Maledictions is out now, published by Black Library.
Kali Wallace, SALVATION DAY (Berkley)
A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.
They thought the ship would be their salvation.
Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya — the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.
But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship — a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.
And then they woke it up.
This sounds interesting. Salvation Day is due to be published by Berkley on July 9th, 2019.
David Wellington, THE LAST ASTRONAUT (Orbit)
Sally Jansen was NASA’s leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. Haunted by her failure, she now lives in semiretirement, convinced her days in space are over.
A large alien object has entered the solar system and is now poised above the Earth. It has made no attempt to communicate and has ignored all incoming transmissions.
With no other living astronauts to turn to, NASA wants Jansen to lead an expedition to the object. For all the dangers of the mission, it’s the shot at redemption she always longed for.
But as the object slowly begins to reveal its terrifying secrets, what began as a journey to make First Contact becomes a desperate struggle for survival… and one thing becomes horribly clear: the future of humanity lies in Jansen’s hands.
Jin Yong, A HERO BORN (St. Martin’s Press)
The epic Chinese classic and phenomenon published in the US for the first time!
A fantastical generational saga and kung fu epic, A Hero Born is the classic novel of its time, stretching from the Song Empire (China 1200 AD) to the appearance of a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Filled with an extraordinary cast of characters, A Hero Born is a tale of fantasy and wonder, love and passion, treachery and war, betrayal and brotherhood.
And then a hero is born…
After his father, a Song patriot, was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Ghengis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned.
With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive.
This series has been getting a lot of attention and buzz of late: recently published in the UK by MacLehose Press, it arrives in North America in September 2019, published by St. Martin’s Press. It’ll be interesting to try this.
Follow the Author: Goodreads